CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Points will likely be at a premium between Illinois and Iowa in Saturday’s Big Ten clash under the lights at Memorial Stadium. It’s a matchup of two of the top three rated scoring defenses in the country, with the Illini (4-1, 1-1 B1G) holding the top spot allowing just 8.4 points per game. The Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-1) are currently third, giving up an average of only 10.0 points per outing.
“They’re a special defense,” Illinois redshirt sophomore receiver Isaiah Williams said. “They like to win games based on defense, they’ve got some great DBs (defensive backs).”
“You can game plan all you want for what they’re gonna do, they know what they’re gonna do,” Illinois senior center Alex Pihlstrom said. “It’s important for our guys to make sure they get the scheme this week because they run it to perfection.”
Iowa has only allowed five touchdowns all season and three of them came in last Saturday’s game against Michigan. The Wolverines scored more points (27) in one game than the Hawkeyes had allowed all season (20) prior to the game.
“They know their system so well, and their greatness comes from the fact they know their system so well and they know the answers and the checks,” Illinois offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. said. “The chess match part of things. It brings up a really unique challenges for us this week.”
On the other side, Illinois has only given up three touchdowns all season, and none at home through three games. It was the first time since 1921 a non-conference team did not score a touchdown against the Illini, helping the team to its first undefeated mark before in non-league play since 2011.
Illinois and Iowa kickoff Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network. The Illini are currently 3.5-point favorites, looking for their first win over the Hawkeyes since 2008, losing eight straight games in the series.